ASTEROIDS seems to be a popular game at the moment for both Sinclair machines and each version is better than the last. Meteoroids is an asteroid-type game for the Spectrum and is produced by Softek, a relative newcomer to the Sinclair scene. The meteors are three-dimensional and are of three types, ranging from small meteorites to large meteoroids.
The game is fast but even though you can score a maximum of 200 points for hitting a large meteoroid, a high score is difficult to achieve.
The player's ship can rotate in both directions, can move across the screen, and go into hyperspace. One added extra is a shield which can be used if the ship is about to be hit by a meteor. Each time the player fires the laser a volley of four shots blasts into space.
The instruction leaflet offers various methods for getting out of tight spots. Meteoroids is produced by Softek, London SE24. It costs £4.95.
MASTERING THE ROGUE ROCKS
Asteroids became one of the craze games of the early 1980's after the worldwide successes of such mega-games as Space Invaders and Galaxians.
It is considerably more difficult than those earlier games, where you had really only two controls to worry about. Asteroids added hyperspace, thrust, rotate left, rotate right and fire.
The game places you in control of space ship being bombarded by a shower of meteorites that come at you relentlessly from the four corners of the screen.
Using your controls you must spin your ship around to shoot the asteroids.
You can also dodge in front or behind the rocks using the thrust button.
If things get a little too hot and a collision seems certain the hyperspace button will make you momentarily disappear and then replace you at random on the screen. But this could prove as dangerous as blasting away at the oncoming role!
Extra points can be earned by shooting down the mystery flying saucers which spin in and out of the asteroids.
We tested versions of the game so far available for the Sinclair Spectrum.
Meteor Storm was the closest to the arcade version of the three games we tested. The asteroids were represented as geometrical line drawings drifting weightlessly towards your ship.
The game displayed clear instructions on the screen and also showed you the value of the various asteroids and flying saucers on the screen.
All three games kept a running total of the high scores but Quicksilva's Meteor Storm took you a stage further than this enabling you to enter the initials of the top ten high scorers of the session.
This version also provides you with a keyboard overlay which, although it seems just like a gimmick, is actually quite useful in Asteroids-type games where you have up to five controls to concentrate on.
My main criticism of Meteor Storm is that the thrust button has inertia, causing you to drift helplessly towards an asteroid, frantically rotating and thrusting.
Sinclair's official software writers, Psion, entered the field with Planetoids. This is not as close to the arcade game as the Quicksilva version though the graphics are no less impressive for this.
Planetoids had the best fire mechanism of the three games tested. The missiles could be fired in quick succession and reached their targets swiftly.
The final version tested was Meteoroids from the new software writers - Softek.
This was not as good a version of the game as the others played. An admirable attempt had been made to simulate the rock-like texture of the asteroids but this did not work. They looked more like chewed up pieces of bubble gum.
There was really not much to choose between the other two - though for my £5 the Quicksilva version is marginally better because of its extra facilities and graphics.
Memory Required: 16K
The arcade game Asteroids crops up on almost every micro. Softek's version Meteoroids is one of the fastest for the Spectrum with good colour and sound.
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